Hormone Balancing Superfoods for hormone health
Hormone-balancing superfoods are foods whole foods that are essential for the healthy hormone production, maintenance, and function of your hormones to ensure hormonal balance.
And because hormonal balance has a great impact on many facets of health including mood, energy metabolism, reproductive health, mental health, and general physical health, it’s important to include hormone-balancing superfoods in your diet on a daily basis
So let’s talk about 11 powerful superfoods for hormonal balance.
But first, it is important to have a basic understanding of hormones.
What are hormones?
Hormones are chemical messengers that are produced in the endocrine glands and then circulate throughout the body via the bloodstream and are sent from one endocrine gland with messages to direct functions and various processes elsewhere in the body.
Hormones deliver messages that tell other cells what they need to do to carry out certain bodily functions.
Take insulin for example.
Insulin is sent from the pancreas to the cells when you eat food telling the cells there is an influx of glucose in the blood and they need to open up to take it up for energy.
But as you know this process doesn’t always happen smoothly in the case of diabetes.
When one has type 2 diabetes there is too much insulin and the cells get impervious to it and refuse to accept it anymore.
And with that action, there is nowhere for the sugar from your cupcake to go.
So it stays circulating in the bloodstream causing high blood sugar.
Unfortunately, excessively high blood sugar can cause critical health problems including heart disease and stroke.
And very high blood sugar or very very low blood sugar if not addressed quickly can lead to death.
That however is just one hormonal imbalance. There are many more hormone imbalances that can happen.
Think about thyroid hormones, steroid hormones, and many other hormones that must be well-controlled to avoid serious health problems.
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What causes the hormonal imbalance?
There are many reasons why hormonal imbalance happens. These include lifestyle factors such as our food choices, our beauty products, stress, and exposure to environmental toxins.
But the problem is that even just one hormonal imbalance can cause many health problems because hormones have a domino effect where one hormone affects other hormones and functions.
That also means when one hormone is out of balance other hormones may also become unbalanced.
Take for example TSH or thyroid-stimulating hormone.
TSH is made in the pituitary gland and affects the production of thyroid hormones T3 and T4.
So when the pituitary gland fails to produce enough TSH or produces too much, this has an effect on the production of T3 and T4, and because the thyroid is the master gland in charge of metabolism, malfunction leads to extremely many bodily functions going wrong, and subsequent illness and health problems.
What is the hormonal imbalance?
Hormonal imbalance means that there is too little or too much of a particular hormone in the bloodstream. All body processes and chemicals are supposed to be in homeostasis( meaning just in the right amounts).
So the body calibrates these processes finely so that even a small increase or decrease can cause widespread bodily dysfunction.
And that means even small changes can make you suffer from chronic illnesses and discomfort even debility.
Signs of hormonal imbalance.
There are many signs of hormonal imbalance including the following.
- Weight gain
- Excess weight loss
- mood problems including anxiety and depression and anxiety, and mood swings.
- skin problems such as dry skin, acne thinning skin
- heart rate problems
- feeling cold
- brain fog
- hair loss
- gut problems- including constipation
- irregular menstrual cycle
- painful periods
- and many more
- Some women also experience postpartum depression and blues. Read more about balancing postpartum hormonal imbalance here.
There are many factors that affect hormone health and therefore a holistic approach to hormonal balance is necessary. See more ways to balance your hormones here.
But the good news is that by committing to eating healthy foods for hormone balance, you can vastly improve hormone balance.
The best foods for hormone balance
There are so many healthy foods you can choose from to make sure you meet the nutritional needs for hormonal balance.
Here are the best foods you should eat as part of a healthy diet for overall health and balance your hormones naturally.
Fats have been bedeviled for years but the body requires healthy fats and cholesterol for the production of hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.
Healthy fat is also necessary for cell health and that’s why too much dieting or starvation in conditions like anorexia can lead to hormonal imbalance.
And that in turn may cause the cessation of periods, cause weak bones, and many health problems.
Keep in mind that hormones like estrogen affect your bone health as well.
So you want to eat plenty of omega-3 fatty acid foods and limit omega-6 fats, trans fats, and saturated fats.
Omega 3s fats are not only anti-inflammatory but are also useful in the production of healthy hormones.
Studies have found that foods rich in healthy fats also help release hormones that make one feel satiated and full.
You want to feel satiated after a meal otherwise you have the need to keep eating, or snacking, a problem that can lead to weight gain, insulin insensitivity, and metabolic syndrome.
To make sure you are getting enough good fats, include foods such as:
1. Wild salmon, and other fatty fish
- Salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega 3 are essential fatty acids that are important in preventing inflammation.
- Systemic inflammation causes many health problems including hormonal imbalance.
- Salmon is also a good source of vitamin D, and research finds that Vitamin D may help increase testosterone levels in both men and women.
- Also, salmon and other fatty fish improve and stabilize hunger hormones.
- Eating fatty fish improves satiety and that helps you eat less, feel full longer, and prevent overeating and weight gain.
- Coconut oil is great for energy metabolism. It also contains lauric acid which is beneficial to hormone production. Healthy fats such as MCTs found in coconut oil also reduce insulin resistance studies show.
- MTCs oils are also great for their anti-inflammatory effects
- MCTs can also be found in palm and olive oils.
4. Avocados: Avocados are a powerhouse of nutrition containing up to 20 vitamins and minerals including potassium, manganese, magnesium vitamins, A, E, C B 6, folate, and lutein.
Avocados also contain monounsaturated fats needed for hormone production.
Additionally, avocados are a good source of fat and fiber, and it has been found that this combination leads to lower post-meals insulin levels and an increase in satiety hormones GLP-1, PPY, and ghrelin.
That means hunger is controlled leading to less need to eat more.
And controlling and balancing insulin levels prevents health issues such as diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
Healthy fats also help your cells keep their shape by protecting the cell lipid membrane – a good thing because it keeps your skin looking plump and radiant.
I think we can all agree that avocados are one of the best hormone-balancing superfoods with a ton of health benefits.
6. Nuts –such as walnuts and almonds provide healthy fats for hormonal balance.
Apart from having healthy fat, nuts contain fiber, and protein, which regulate blood sugar.
The good thing is there are so many nuts to choose from such as walnuts high in omega-3 fatty acids, or almonds and cashews.
Almonds keep blood sugars low and help prevent inflammation and oxidative stress for optimal hormonal health.
Brazil nuts are an especially good source of selenium, an important nutrient and powerful antioxidant crucial in converting T4 to T3 and protecting the thyroid gland.
And since the thyroid is our master gland controlling all our metabolic processes, helping to balance thyroid levels is such an important task. So grab a few brazil buts and keep your thyroid hormones healthy.
But please note: You should eat just a few brazil nuts. Too many can be toxic.
Olive oil is another good fat for hormone balance.
Shop for a good quality olive by reading the label carefully.
Healthy lean proteins.
It is best to eat lean organic raised grass-fed beef, free-range poultry, or plant-based proteins for hormonal balance.
If you have to eat meat then it is important to ensure it is antibiotic and growth hormone-free.
Proteins are important for hormonal balance because they keep you full longer, lower the hunger hormone ghrelin, and increase leptin, the fullness hormone. And proteins are needed for hormone synthesis.
Eating more protein will keep you from the temptation to snack and hunkering for sugary and processed foods.
But you don’t have to eat animal proteins.
There are many plant sources of protein.
And plant protein foods are also excellent sources of fiber, vitamins, and minerals necessary for keeping hormones balanced.
Here are some great sources of plant proteins:
Lentils for instance contain vitamin B6, protein, and zinc and help balance estrogen and testosterone.
It is important to be careful with soy though as most of what is on the market is genetically modified soy.
This type of soy can lead to estrogen imbalance and health issues including cancer for both men and women.
Now, if you love soy products and I know they are handy when you are a vegetarian or vegan, then use fermented soy products to prevent a hormonal imbalance. Also, ensure your soy products are organic to avoid pesticides which are very bad for hormone balance.
One great way to have more plant-based proteins is to use plant protein powders in smoothies.
I love and recommend Orgain Organic Plant-Based Protein + Superfoods Powder. to make delicious smoothies and ensure I am consuming a good amount of healthy protein to meet hormonal, metabolic, and other health needs.
Complex carbs are an essential part of hormone health. If you are diabetic of course you need to eat complex carbs in moderation because they can still raise your sugar but not as much as simple carbs do.
Complex carbs are a great source of fiber and lignans which help to flush out toxins, bind and remove excess estrogen, and maintain estrogen balance.
They also regulate blood sugar and cortisol levels and are needed for serotonin production.
Both cortisol and serotonin affect mood.
Additionally, serotonin is converted to melatonin so we can sleep well at night. And that further promotes hormonal balance.
The key is to eat complex carbs in moderation and to avoid simple and processed carbs so as to keep blood sugar in check.
Complex carbs include:
- leafy green vegetables
- root vegetables like carrots, potatoes, and sweet potatoes.
- whole grains such as whole-grain rice, quinoa, millet, and more.
- peas, and lentils
Consider adding quinoa to your meal plans. Quinoa is a superfood containing 9 essential amino acids, iron, and fiber, and therefore it is a great food to include in a hormone balance diet plan.
Quinoa is also a great source of zinc. A 2010 study found a relationship between zinc and thyroid hormone levels in patients with goiter. And that makes quinoa a great hormone-balancing superfood.
Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower which are especially nutritious and are amazing hormone-balancing superfoods.
Cruciferous vegetables contain a sulfur compound called DII that helps in estrogen metabolism (source).
They also help the liver detoxify, metabolize estrogen, and help to flush out old excess estrogen.
As such it is important to eat these vegetables often to prevent estrogen dominance.
Additionally, cruciferous vegetables also contain vitamins, A, C, E, and K -powerful antioxidants that keep cells healthy and prevent inflammation a key contributing factor in hormonal imbalance.
Plus cruciferous vegetables are important foods for a robust immune system.
And the best part is that it is easy to prepare cruciferous vegetables.
They are so very versatile and easy to include in your weekly meals.
You can steam them, or even roast them or make delicious soups or salads with broccoli, cabbage, or cauliflower.
A note about cruciferous veggies and leafy greens: they contain goitrogens that interfere with iodine, and iodine is needed for thyroid hormone production.
This is important to know especially if you have hypothyroidism or an iodine deficiency.
If on the other hand, you eat enough iodine, then you should be okay.
Probiotic foods should be a priority when you think of hormonal balance. Why?
Because a healthy gut and a healthy gut microbiome are very important in keeping your Hormones healthy.
When the gut gets leaky the inflammation that follows affects the whole body including hormonal balance.
And further imbalance, in turn, affects the gut health and so you have this vicious cycle of imbalance and inflammation like a runaway freight train.
Just start nourishing your gut for better hormonal balance.
Some of the best probiotic-rich foods include:
- Yogurt–you want the fatty kind( stay away from the no-sugar variety as they have additives that can mess up gut health. Greek yogurt without the fruit on the bottom is best).
These types of foods contain plenty of gut health probiotics.
You should also eat prebiotic foods such as bananas, mushrooms, asparagus, and vegetables. All these enhance a healthy gut and better health. Many health problems including hormonal imbalances start in the gut.
You may have heard as Hypocrites said: “All diseases begin in the gut. ”
Green leafy vegetables
By now we know that leafy greens are superfoods that are great for overall health.
But please note that when it comes to your hormone balance it is important to eat organic to avoid
. pesticides and chemicals that imitate estrogen and are hormonal disrupters.
Leafy greens contain many antioxidants like vitamins A, C, and K and minerals like magnesium and B vitamins all necessary for hormonal health.
These vitamins and especially vitamin C are potent protectors of hormone-producing organs.
Vitamin C is also vital for the proper function of the adrenals. It is especially important because when adrenal glands are excessively taxed due to stress, dysfunction can follow.
And we all know modern-day life is stressful so we tend to demand too much of our adrenals which can lead to adrenal fatigue.
Studies find that the adrenal glands and adrenal cortex contain the biggest levels of vitamin C, indicating how important vitamin C is in the function of the adrenals.
Per the research, it is because ascorbic acid is used as a cofactor in the production of catecholamines-( flight or fight hormones), and in steroidogenesis ( production of steroids).
So eat your spinach and reap these benefits to your hormone health.
Red bell peppers though not leafy greens are a great source of vitamin C.
Additionally, leafy greens are important sources of fiber that help in hormonal balance as noted especially detoxing of extra estrogen in the gut. According to studies, women who consume more fiber have less circulating serum estrogen.
And all leafy greens and especially spinach are good sources of iron. Iron plays an important role in the production of thyroid hormones and of course, it is necessary for healthy hemoglobin, oxygen circulation, and energy.
Good thing is, you can eat your vegetables in so many ways in every meal including smoothies for breakfast or any time.
You can saute them or steam them or just make soup. Check out these recipes for soup ideas. These are delicious soups great for the cold season.
Root vegetables contain are rich in many nutrients that are essential for hormonal balance.
Superfoods such as sweet potatoes, carrots, turns, and regular potatoes are great sources of complex carbohydrates essential for energy production and keeping blood sugar levels even.
Many root vegetables are also good sources of vitamins and minerals, such as magnesium which also help in hormone production.
Great choices include sweet potatoes – a good source of vitamin B6, vitamin A, C, fiber, and protein- nutrients that contribute to hormone balance.
B6 is crucial for liver detoxification and a necessary process for getting rid of old estrogen.
Other root vegetables include potatoes- great sources of magnesium and vitamin B6, and carrots which contain vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant.
Fruits for hormonal balance
Of course, we all know we need to eat fruit as part of a balanced diet.
Fruits contain many nutrients including vitamins, especially vitamin C, fiber, and glucose for energy.
When eating fruits and vegetables it is recommended to use organic to avoid chemicals and pesticide overload as many of these chemicals are estrogen imitators and endocrine disrupters. So buy organic as much as you can.
Also, avoid going overboard on fruit due to excess sugar.
Eat various fruits to reap all the benefits of the phytonutrients they contain.
Some to consider include:
They are a good source of vitamin C, a compound essential in steroid hormone synthesis from which progesterone and testosterone are made.
Progesterone is especially important as it supports mood and a healthy reproductive system.
When progesterone is diminished you feel edgy, even angry and irritable. And it is vital in supporting a healthy pregnancy.
Strawberries: They contain high levels of vitamin C and are a good source of phytoestrogens.
Blueberries: Blueberries are a good source of many antioxidants including vitamin C, and B6 necessary for adrenal function and the production of the stress hormones cortisol.
Papaya: A great source of vitamin C, A, folate, complex carbs, and fiber, and supports a healthy gut.
As mentioned fruits also help to maintain a healthy gut. All fruits and especially bananas are good sources of prebiotics and keep your good gut microbes happy.
Why is a healthy gut important for hormone balance?
Eating plenty of foods high in fiber, or fermented foods prevents leaky gut and systemic inflammation, and thus prevents a hormonal imbalance. Keep in mind some hormones are also produced by the enteroendocrine cells in the lining of the gut.
These hormones include hormones such as CCK, PPY, GLP1, GIP, and 5HT which regulate insulin sensitivity, glucose metabolism, appetite, and fat storage.
And, inflammation in the gut can lead to problems such as insulin sensitivity, stress hormone depletion, and estrogen dominance.
Green tea is a powerful antioxidant and as we have seen antioxidants are important in battling inflammation.
Inflammation is bad for hormone health and every other bodily function except when it is acute inflammation for healing injuries such as stubbed toe.
Green tea contains the antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate or EGCG which improves insulin sensitivity.
Research studies including this one and this research showed improved glucose control and insulin sensitivity with the consumption of green tea. But hold the sugar!
Seeds are great superfoods for hormone balance. Some seeds to consider include flaxseeds, chia seeds, pumpkin, sunflower, and sesame seeds. These contain lignans and phytoestrogens or healthy plant estrogens.
Lignans are compounds that help with estrogen balance by helping to produce more estrogen if you are deficient and take out the excess when there is excess.
Sunflower seeds are especially high in vitamin E a potent antioxidant helpful in estrogens production. Research studies show that vitamin E can alter or inhibit the growth of cancer cells and decrease breast cancer risk.
Pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, and sunflower seeds are great sources of magnesium as well, an essential nutrient for hormone balance.
Magnesium is also an anti-inflammatory mineral important mineral one that is critical in the prevention of metabolic syndrome, a condition that is both hormonal and metabolic in nature.
Metabolic syndrome leads to excessive cortisol production and insulin insensitivity and type 2 diabetes.
Another reason you need magnesium for hormonal balance is that a large amount of magnesium is needed when stress is high. And many of us stay stressed causing cortisol imbalance.
Unfortunately in the western world, magnesium deficiency is common. And this deficiency leads to stress reactions and organ damage.
According to research, stress activates the hypothalamic, pituitary-adrenal axis pathway, and the sympathetic nervous system and it is this process that ultimately causes metabolic syndrome and of course more stress.
Stress also leads to insulin resistance by activating the renins -angiotensin-aldosterone system due to increased oxidative stress.
This magnesium deficiency-induced inflammatory response is elaborate, fascinating, and complex-read about it here.
Essentially, magnesium deficiency affects stress response and leads to insulin resistance, inflammation, and weight gain common in metabolic syndrome and PCOS.
And eating foods high in magnesium such as seeds can keep this stress, oxidative stress, insulin dominance, and metabolic syndrome in check.
Eggs are some of the best superfoods known to men, or women that is. Why are eggs so powerful in hormone balance?
Let’s start by talking about how satieting eggs are. And that is important when you are trying to balance your hormones. Eggs improve satiety for up to 24 hours!
Research finds that eating eggs helps control the hunger hormones ghrelin and insulin levels. And these hormones when imbalanced drive metabolic syndrome, weight gain, and diabetes.
Eggs also contain many vitamins and minerals including iron, vitamins D, B, E, and A, calcium, potassium, choline, and even Iodine. Choline and iodine are important in thyroid hormone production.
Eggs also contain cholesterol, and while too much cholesterol may not be good, cholesterol is one of the building blocks of hormones such as estrogen and progesterone.
And with all these benefits to health and hormone balance, eggs have earned their rightful place in this list as some of the best hormone-balancing superfoods. Pus eggs are easy to prepare and so many ways to make them. So whip up some eggs for breakfast and keep your hormones in balance.
As you can see there are many foods to eat to keep your hormones in balance.
Eating a variety of healthy foods is the best way to balance your hormones naturally.
That, combined with other lifestyle changes like making sure to sleep enough, keeping stress low, avoiding chemicals in plastics and personal care items, and exercising will help with hormonal balance and overall health.
Changes are not easy to make especially if you have eaten particular foods all your life.
And in some cases, other health issues may cause hormonal imbalance.
Sometimes you try and still can’t meet nutrient requirements.
In such cases supplementing is good.
So if you wonder what supplements or vitamins you should take to balance your hormones, here is a list of the best supplements for hormonal balance.
Do you think or know if you have a hormonal imbalance? Which of these foods do you think you will eat more of?
It’s true, we are what we ate, and if you want to start looking your best lose some weight, and look your best, try including the hormone-balancing superfoods discussed in this article.
And as always, if you found this article helpful, please share it on your social media.
Hormone balancing superfoods
Great tips for the best foods to balance hormones naturally! I will add these to my grocery list today!
Alyse, thank you for reading and I and I am thrilled you found new healthy foods to add to your grocery list for your hormonal balance as well as total wellness.